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Budget 2004: $110 million for languages education.

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11 May 2004 MINBUD 29/04

The Australian Government will provide $110 million over the next four years for the teaching of languages in Australian schools. This represents an increase of $21 million or 23% over the previous four year funding period.

The Australian Government recognises that young Australians with language skills and an understanding of international cultures are vital to our nation’s future in an increasingly global community.

Funding from the Australian Government School Languages Programme will be provided to education authorities in the States and Territories to support the teaching of Asian, European and Australian Indigenous languages in schools and community language programmes in ethnic schools.

Around 146 different languages are being taught in schools across Australia, with around 50% of all students studying at least one language. The expansion of languages education in primary schools in recent years marks a significant growth in students studying languages. In mainstream schools more than 90% of these students were studying one of the following six languages: Japanese, Italian, Indonesian, French, German or Chinese.

The Australian Government welcomes the development of a national statement and a four year plan on languages education through the Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs (MCEETYA) for endorsement later this year.

In the 2003-04 Budget, $4 million was allocated over four years to introduce the Endeavour Language Teacher Fellowships, giving recipients the opportunity to improve their language and cultural skills through an intensive, in-country study programme. One hundred and nineteen Fellowships were awarded in November 2003.

In addition, $1.2 million has been set aside through the Australian Government Quality Teacher Programme for the professional development of Asian language teachers over the next two years.

As State and Territory governments provide the vast bulk of public funding for government schools it is vital that they provide appropriate funding to ensure the

success of languages education programmes in their schools.

The Coalition Government takes seriously its leadership role in encouraging the learning of languages in schools. These important national initiatives will strengthen languages education in schools and give young people the opportunity to achieve through choice and opportunity.

Media Contacts: Dr Nelson’s Office: Ross Hampton 0419 484 095 Dept of Education, Science & Training: Virginia Cook 0412 971 323

Note: The information in this media release has been previously announced on 11 March 2004.